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On Mahatma Gandhi's 150th Birth Anniversary Today, PM Modi to Declare India Open Defecation-free

Modi will start the day with a visit to Raj Ghat, the resting place of the father of the nation. It will be followed by a visit to Vijay Ghat, the resting place of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who also shares his birthday with Gandhi.

PTI

Updated:October 2, 2019, 12:04 AM IST
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On Mahatma Gandhi's 150th Birth Anniversary Today, PM Modi to Declare India Open Defecation-free
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers flowers to a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and later declare the country open defecation-free.

Several events have been organised in the city and in other parts of Gujarat on Wednesday as part of the sesquicentennial year of Gandhi's birth anniversary.

The government is also expected to announce a ban on single-use plastic to pave the way for the country to become free of it by 2022.

Modi will start the day with a visit to Rajghat, the resting place of the father of the nation. It will be followed by a visit to Vijayghat, the resting place of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who also shares his birthday with Gandhi.

Modi will next go to Parliament where he will pay floral tributes to both leaders. Later in the evening, he will fly to Ahmedabad and visit Sabarmati Ashram.

Modi will arrive at the Ahmedabad airport around 6 pm and will be greeted by BJP workers at a function organised there by the party's city unit, said Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said. He will then visit the Sabarmati Ashram to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation.

From there, he will go to the Sabarmati riverfront where he will declare the country open defecation-free (ODF) in the presence of over 20,000 village heads, added Vaghani. People associated with Gandhian institutions, high court judges, Padma awardees, students, educationists and village-level sanitation workers have been invited for the function.

"Modi will also attend the state-level Navratri festival organised at the city's GMDC ground. He will spend some time at the Garba ground before leaving for Delhi," Vaghani said.

People visiting Gujarat to attend the October 2 function at Sabarmati riverfront will be taken to different places associated with Mahatma Gandhi, like the memorial at Dandi, which is associated with the historic salt march led by him in 1930, and the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.

The administration of Navsari district, where Dandi is located, has organised a mega cleanliness drive at the Dandi beach, where Gandhi made salt as part of a civil disobedience movement, known as the 'Salt Satyagrah'. Navsari collector Ardra Agarwal said around 1,500 people are likely to join the drive to clean the Dandi beach.

Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah will flag off the party's nationwide "Gandhi Sankalp Yatra" on Wednesday, with its leaders, including Union ministers, scheduled to start the four-month drive from different parts of the country.

The party said Shah will address a meeting in Shalimar Bagh in Delhi before launching the yatra that aims to propagate ideals of the 'Father of the Nation', including cleanliness, simplicity, use of Khadi and non-violence.

BJP working president JP Nadda will join the 'Gandhi Sankalp Yatra' at Chand Vatika near Khaira village while Union minister Prakash Javadekar will join in at Chuna Bhatti area of Kirti Nagar. All Delhi MPs and senior BJP leaders will join this 'yatra' at different points across Delhi.

The Congress, meanwhile, will celebrate the occasion by organising 'padayatras' across the country, with party leader Rahul Gandhi joining the foot march in Delhi that will be led by interim President Sonia Gandhi.

The Consulate General in New York would hold a celebration at Union Square to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi.

Over 10,000 students will assemble their own solar lamps and light them together to commemorate the anniversary at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, as part of the Global Student Solar Assembly and an attempt to enter the Guinness Book world record.

Javadekar on Tuesday released a short tribute film on how the seeds of fearlessness were sown early in Gandhi. The film is a joint production of two premier film schools of the world — the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and La Femis in Paris — he said in a tweet.

In a message on Tuesday evening, President Ram Nath Kovind said Mahatma Gandhi is a global icon revered across continents and he showed everyone the path to communal unity, removal of untouchability, and upliftment of women.

Kovind said it is a special occasion for everyone to rededicate to the values of truth, non-violence, harmony, morality and simplicity. He added that 'Satya', 'Ahimsa' and 'Sarvodaya' formed the bedrock of Gandhi's numerous messages to humanity.

"Gandhiji is a global icon revered across continents. United Nations has marked Gandhi Jayanti as 'The International Day of Non-Violence'. Gandhian values and many of his methods remain relevant not only for India but for the entire world," he said.

Meanwhile, a spinning session and singing of bhajans will be organised at Mani Bhavan in Mumbai where Mahatma Gandhi stayed while in the city. The day will begin with a khadi-spinning session at 7.30 am followed by an hour of prayer and bhajans, Executive Secretary of Mani Bhavan Meghshyam Ajgaonkar said.

"At 5.30 pm we will host a lecture by historian Ramachandra Guha titled 'Searching for Gandhi'," he said.

The National Gallery of Modern Art will host an exhibition of paintings with themes like Swadeshi, Ahimsa, Truth and Satyagraha.

Events in Gujarat

At the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati, the day will begin with a 'sarvadharm prarthana' (all faith prayer) at around 8.30 am. Around 900 students from primary schools across the state will gather there and some of them will share their views on Gandhi's teachings of non-violence.

The ashram trust said these children are among the 30,000 students from government primary schools who are being taught a lesson in non-violence by facilitators trained at the Ashram. They will speak on topics like 'Gandhi and non-violence' and 'Gandhi and cleanliness', the trust's director Atul Pandya said.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will spend the morning in Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, and will dedicate to the city a riverfront constructed on the Asmavati river at a cost of Rs 44 crore. He will also attend a prayer meet at Kirti Mandir, the ancestral house of the Gandhi family where Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869.

Rupani will also take part in a cleanliness drive in the city which will be attended by a large number of people.

(With inputs from agencies)

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